Collision had very distinguished cast, led by lovely Douglas Henshall (John Tolin), and with fine work as well from the likes of Paul McGann (Richard Reeves) and Lucy Griffiths (Jane Tarrant). With multiple storylines centred on a crash, tracking back and forth from before the crash to the event itself and then its aftermath and the investigation, it was of course a very British take on the Oscar-scooping film, Crash. I rather liked that film, but acknowledge its weaknesses and that it was very unpopular for winning the Best Picture Oscar over Brokeback Mountain.
Perhaps my liking of 'Crash' and my love of Dougie's performances meant I was more inclined to go with the narrative structure of this 5-part ITV drama (aired in other countries in two parts). With Horowitz in the driving seat - I've recently been watching some of his earlier work on Poirot - there were plenty of twists and turns, but I'm not sure how convincing it was in the end. Still, Cloud watched it with me quite eagerly, was keen enough to do a double-back on the ITV catch-up on Thursday when we missed the start due to having been out at a cello concert, and watched the finale in my absence. So that has to be worth something.
Personally, episodes 3 and 4 were the high points, but with one of the central storylines wrapped up by the end of ep4, there was a certain degree of anti-climax to ep5.
Anyone watching the show since it first aired a few weeks ago outside the UK (and that includes US viewers who get it on PBS Masterpiece Contemporary) will doubtless note that one core element of the plot from the ending would have made MUCH more sense had the drama been screened in Spring 2009 as originally scheduled*. That alone had me groaning slightly at the ending. But the explanation for the crash...? Sigh.
*I do try to not rant on about distribution issues, but there is something wrong about a UK developed drama starring UK actors not airing in the UK first (though I'd personally be happier with worldwide airing on simultaneous dates as much as is feasible).
My overall reaction: good. Not excellent, as 'Place of Execution' had been (or even 'Whitechapel') but a solid narrative that kept me watching to follow each storyline to its conclusion, even if some were more satisfactorily concluded than others.
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BEWARE OF SPOILERS ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!!!!!
Things I liked:
Dougie and his performance - nicely nuanced, though the relationships with both Ann (Kate 'WHAAAAT?!' Ashfield) and his daughter Jodie (Jo Woodcock - excellent performance from her) were a bit sketchy. Not having Jodie reappear in ep5 after the intense conversation with her father seemed odd. Felt the punch to the drunk driver when he forgave Tolin was very 'true' as a reaction as was Tolin's eventual remorse and moving on.
Lucy Griffiths getting on the train - hurrah. McGann may have been playing a fantasist shit but he gave her the inspiration to try to reach her dreams. As Jane tearfully tried to convince the hapless Dave, they wanted different things: in many respects it wasn't even really about handsome Richard whisking her off her feet with his riches and fancy opportunities. She was already not happy before the crash, bulldozed by circumstances into marriage, so it was nice to think she had a chance of breaking free.
Zoe Telford as Sandra Rampton the snooty wife taking no shit from the dodgy garage-based people-smugglers - contrasted with poor Naomi's attempts to get them to talk to her about her husband. Am convinced that Mrs Rampton knew full well the crash driver brother-in-law Danny would not be going further than the scrap yard.
The refugee Tsegga (Cornelius Macarthy) - scathingly noting his English language skills to those transporting him to England.
The Christine/Brian Edwards storyline with the obnoxious mother-in-law (respectively Jan Francis, Phil Davis, and Sylvia Sims) - I was fine with this until ep5 when there was a virtually word for word replay of dialogue from the previous episode (unless I was mistaking a flashback for a new scene). And that annoyed me so much.
Things I disliked:
Tolin ditching the 'journalist' to his fate - it felt somewhat out of kilter that despite 'Taylor' using Karen (and therefore leading to her death), Tolin would willfully leave him be killed.
The wasp ending - oh pur-lease! I get this was about randomness, the small things in life that have big rippling effects, but really. And tho I'll watch it again I'm pretty sure the presence of wasps wasn't there in 'casual' scenes until ep5 which feels like a tag-on for the narrative explanation. UPDATE: apparently there were wasps. I am Ms unobservant.
The heavy-handed 'misdirection' on the Sidney Morris/Norris story - it was actually a nice twist they had (would have been even better if they'd screened in Spring as planned before Star Trek came out) but my God, could they have laden on the paedophile misdirection story any thicker?
Dropping the black characters' crash story first - not racist, just disappointing to see it dismissed first of all the storylines. Just about compensated by the intelligent refugee engineer Tsegga, though it would have been better to see his wife Naomi get some justice from the people smugglers come-uppance.
Would I have watched this without the ever-compelling Douglas Henshall in a key role? Possibly, but also possibly not. There was enough to keep us watching anyway, but I'm not sure if we would have been quite so interested in watching from the start without his performance to pull us in. And if we hadn't watched the first ep, I doubt we would have involved ourselves in the rest. Worthwhile, but perhaps adding up to less than the sum of its parts.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
TV review: Collision reviews - first without spoilers, then scroll for spoilers